02.06.2012 - UNESCO Office for Iraq

Safety training to protect journalists, human rights defenders, and academics in Iraq

Three participants performing a first-aid training during the workshop. © UNESCO Iraq 2012

In one of its most recent initiative to enhance the protection of journalists, academics and human rights defenders UNESCO conducted from 24 April 2012 to 1 June twelve safety and security training seminars in Basra, Erbil and Baghdad, bringing together 240 professionals from all over Iraq.

Organized by Hart Security Australia within the framework of the project entitled “Protection of media professionals, human rights defenders and members of the academic community in Iraq”, the workshops respond to the continuous risk faced by journalists, human rights defenders and academics working in the country, with a view to enabling them to cope with the daily risks they encounter in the course of their work and to further strengthen their role on promoting human rights.

The two-day training course exposed the participants to various important topics, including security, self-protection, risk management and trauma first aid. The course also includes practical exercises to reinforce the learning process, and techniques and skills for assessing and reacting to threats and professional hazards.

“This training course has given me better understanding about the planning of my personal and professional security”, commented Shehab Mohammed Mahmoud, a journalist who attended the first session in Basra. "This workshop is not a lecturing, it is more of a conversation, an exchange of experiences" said Salama Al Sagban, human rights defender from Diwaniyah. Participants are taking an engaging role in sharing information, incidents and stories, which are analyzed and discussed by all with the guidance of Hart Security trainers to identify those prevention and mitigation measures that were taken or could be taken to reduce risks.

In addition, with the support of Hart Security, UNESCO has developed a safety manual on the basic knowledge and practical skills needed to effectively address and mitigate critical security threats and risks faced by the target groups. The manual is also being distributed during the training courses, as well as first aid kits.

This training workshop will be followed by a Training of Trainer on safety and security for those participants who show promise and willingness to be further trained as trainers and to become ongoing resource to their peers.

The “Protection of media professionals, human rights defenders and members of the academic community in Iraq” project is implemented by UNESCO, UNOPS and UNAMI Human Right Office, and is made possible through the generous financial support of the European Union through the UNDG Iraq Trust Fund.

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